Posts Tagged ‘Insects’

Interesting Plants

June 24, 2022

The past week has produced a number of good finds. On Sunday I went to Borreraig in NG15 in the hope of re-finding a 1991 record of Neottia ovata (Common Twayblade). I failed on that, but right where I parked the car there was Glechoma hederacea (Ground-ivy), new to NG15. A path has been mown down to the shore and some benches placed there. There has also been some planting, including Carex pendula (Pendulous Sedge), Gunnera tinctoria (Giant-rhubarb) (both new to NG15) and Libertia formosa (Chilean-iris) (new to the vice-county).

Libertia formosa

All in all, I added eight species to the NG15 list.

A passing visit to Portree allowed me to check up on the Logfia minima (Small Cudweed) and take a photo of it before it has shrivelled up, though it is still not that impressive:

Logfia minima

On Tuesday, Steve and I surveyed a square in Broadford for the Urban Flora of Scotland project. Steve showed me his recent finds of Fumaria officinalis subsp. officinalis (Common Fumitory) and Arum italicum (Italian Lords-and-Ladies), both new to NG62 and each with only one previous record in VC104 (though F. officinalis with no subspecies specified has a few more records).

We added a few more garden escapes to the NG62 list and Pilosella caespitosa (Yellow Fox-and-cubs) to the vice-county list.

Pilosella caespitosa

I think that a rose, which was also present in the monad Neil and I covered a few weeks ago, is Rosa ‘Hollandica’ – a hybrid of Rosa rugosa (Japanese Rose) and an uncertain second parent.

Rosa ‘Hollandica’

Afterwards, I went to try and see some things that Joanna had found in an adjacent monad and stumbled over Trifolium campestre (Hop Trefoil), the first localised record for Skye – two earlier ones being at the 10 km square level and undated.

Trifolium campestre at Broadford

On Wednesday it was off to Waternish Point with Neil to try and locate something he spotted looking very dead in the depths of winter eighteen months ago. We couldn’t find whatever it was, which was a shame as it had a fungus on it that would probably have been easy to name if we had been sure of the host. However, we added 30, 41 and 25 taxa to the plant lists for three tetrads on the west side of Waternish Point and it was good to see Lysimachia tenella (Bog Pimpernel) in two of them.

We spotted some leaf mines on Cochlearia officinalis (Common Scurvygrass) which I am leaving Neil to sort out. They look like fly mines to me.

Mine on Cochlearia officinalis

A Day in Sleat

May 26, 2022

Tuesday was primarily Bird Cherry day for me. I was hoping to find caterpillars of the bird-cherry ermine moth (Yponomeuta evonymella) and failed, but I did find various things on the Bird Cherry:

When I stopped to inspect my first Bird Cherry of the day, I was delighted to find four fine specimens of Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s-nest Orchid) – a long way from any previously known site for this locally rare plant.

Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s-nest Orchid)

I caught three micro-moths, one of which (the smallest and least distinctive) turns out to be new to the vice-county.

Not Plants

May 22, 2022

I have been away for three periods of several nights in May and most of the nights I have been here were not suitable for moth trapping. I did manage to put out the trap on one night and added two to my May list, The Engrailed and Brindled Pug, but I have had both of these in the month of April, so no great surprise. Just before the end of April, I had a Puss Moth in the trap for the first time.

Out on the moor I have seen my first Silver Y moth of the year, a migratory species that usually arrives in May, and during the Skye Botany Group outing Neil spotted Clepsis senecionana (Obscure Twist). We also saw a Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata), the first dragonfly of the year for many of us.

This Mayfly was by a burn on Raasay and is Ecdyonurus torrentis, a useful record for northwest Scotland.

In the garden, something very small is mining a rose leaf and in leaf litter in nearby woodland I came across the object shown below. I do not know what this is. It is soft and I have put it in a pot in case anything emerges.

Insect News

April 23, 2022

Last night I had 76 moths in and around my moth trap. There were two Brindled Ochres, which I have not had before and an Angle Shades, which I have had as an imago in May, September, October and November, but not previously in April.

Brindled Ochre

A week previously the moth trap had attracted a Twin-spotted Quaker, another first for me.

Twin-spotted Quaker

In the garden I have had the large hoverfly Eristalis pertinax, sometimes called Tapered Drone Fly and not far away Bombylius major, the Dark-edged Bee-fly, has made an early appearance nectaring on primroses and occasionally, Lesser Celandine.

Dark-edged Bee-fly

In & Out of the Garden

March 12, 2022

The banks of the River Chracaig in Portree have yielded a number of new vice-county or new to Skye records in the past few years, the result of past planting and recent garden throw-outs. Seth has now added two more, Rumex sanguineus var. sanguineus (Red Wood Dock) and Cupressus obtusa (Hinoki Cypress) (to be confirmed).

Later: Confirmed by Matt Parratt, BSBI Conifer referee.

Rumex sanguineus var. sanguineus Image: SJD Gibson
Cupressus obtusa (probably)

Back on Raasay the Chrysosplenium oppositifolium (Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage) and Caltha palustris (Marsh-marigold) are in flower along the burn.

OLGS (with small fly) and Marsh Marigold. Arish Burn, Raasay

At the top of the shore there are many springtails in the leaf litter/seaweed zone. I had not expected to find out exactly what they are but, based on images, Peter Shaw says the springtail looks like Isotomurus maculatus, but would like to check it under x400 as there is a similar but less common species, Isotoma riparia. I have sent him a specimen.

Later: Peter found both Isotomurus palustris and Isotoma riparia amongst the specimens I sent!

Isotomurus sp.

Then yesterday this true bug was on the front door, so I let it in, albeit in a tube. It is Scolopostethus decoratus, a ground bug associated with heather.

Scolopostethus decoratus

In the Garden in Early March

March 6, 2022

In the polytunnel where the weeds are still rife, there is a rust on some young willowherb plants. The plants are almost certainly Epilobium obscurum (Short-fruited Willowherb), though I cannot rule out hybrids at this stage, and the rust is Pucciniastrum epilobii. The presence of uredina on both sides of the leaf and the fact that they are small (c. 0.25 mm) distinguishes it from the other candidate, Puccinia pulverulenta.

Rust on Willowherb

Meanwhile, the insects are stirring. I had a male Pale Brindled Beauty a couple of days ago (the females are wingless) and this attractive chironomid (non-biting) midge was on the house. It is probably a Metriocnemus sp. but that is as far as it goes.

Aphids & Hawkweeds

September 12, 2021

Prompted by Neil’s observations on Skye, I went looking for a couple of aphid species here on Raasay. I had to walk all of 200 metres from my front gate to find both:

Yarrow Aphid (Macrosiphoniella millefolii) on Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) The pink ones are males.
Large Knapweed Aphids (Uroleucon jaceae) on Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) The black cauda (“tails”) and tibiae (“calves”) distinguish it from Uroleucon jaceicola

My second 2021 batch of Hieracium (Hawkweed) specimens has been determined and it turns out that I had collected lots of the locally common H. triviale (Common Hawkweed) and H. shoolbredii (Shoolbred’s Hawkweed). At least the distribution maps for these are filling out, with these two species accounting for three new 10 km square records this year.

However, I also found H. strictiforme (Strict Hawkweed) near Flodigarry, only the second post-1999 record in the vice-county and Neil took me to see a plant that he found last year galled by the cynipid wasp Aulacidea hiercii. This turns out to be H. subcrocatum (Dark-styled Hawkweed), also only the second post-1999 record in the vice-county.

Aulacidea hiercii galls on Hieracium subcrocatum (Dark-styled Hawkweed)

Aquatics & Caterpillars

September 10, 2021

A sub-group of Skye Botany Group went to Loch Connan and Loch Niarsco, principally to look for Potamogeton berchtoldii (Small Pondweed), which had been recorded in the NCC Loch Survey in 1989 but not since in the 10 km square NG34. We succeeded in Loch Connan, but not in Loch Niarsco:

Potamogeton berchtoldii (Small Pondweed)

We found Potamogeton alpinus (Red Pondweed) at an old site in Loch Niarsco and also this unusual looking Sparganium that is probably the S. emersum x S. angustifolium hybrid, Sparganium x diversifolium, though a specimen has been sent for expert determination. This would be new to VC104. Later: Determined as most likely diminutive S. emersum – though there was a big patch like this. Disappointing.

On the shore I spotted some leaf mines on Caltha palustris (Marsh-marigold) which Seth determined as being caused by Phytomyza calthophila. This was confirmed by the national scheme recorder as a first for the Inner Hebrides.

And, for something different, recent moth larvae from the garden:

From the top: Angle Shades, Bright-line Brown-eye, Brimstone Moth and Knot Grass


August 13, 2021

In early June I took a piece of Prunus padus (Bird Cherry) that had some leaves tied together with silk in the hope of rearing a moth form the larva responsible. So far no moth has emerged, but a few days ago I found this nymph in the pot, which is Anthocoris sp., very probably A. nemorum (Common Flowerbug), though bright red is unusual.

Anthocoris nemorum nymph

A quick sweep with a net along the shore near the house a couple of days ago produced a number of different bugs, four of which I have identified:

The Philaenus spumarius is an unusual colour form and I have been baffled by the variation in this species before. I am grateful to Petro for sorting out the Lygus – a difficult group.

The Atriplex glabriuscula (Babington’s Orache) at the top of the shore is heavily galled; the leaves are rolled and some bracteoles are also galled by large numbers of this waxy green aphid:

Hayhurstia atriplicis

Two Days in July

July 8, 2021

On Tuesday I visited Phil at Drumfearn who is managing his croft for wildlife. He has changed areas of Molinia into havens for a large variety of plants, invertebrates, birds and other vertebrates. This has been achieved largely by natural regeneration plus native tree and shrub planting from locally-sourced material.

There were lots of Greater Butterfly-orchids (Platanthera chlorantha) and I saw my first Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) of the year. He showed me where Galeopsis speciosa (Large-flowered Hemp-nettle) had emerged from disturbed ground a few years back and there were quite a few specimens of Malva moschata (Musk-mallow), both pretty rare on Skye.

Afterwards, I walked the southern shore of Loch Eishort from Drumfearn to where the Abhainn Ceann Loch Eiseoirt feeds the loch in the east. Much of this is in a tetrad (NG61T) that did not get well covered in the Atlas 2020 recording but it is quite rich botanically and I increased the vascular plant taxon count from 131 to 184. I found this bug, which is not rare but was new to me:

Neolygus contaminatus

Then yesterday, half a dozen of us went to inspect Ophioglossum azoricum (Small Adder’s-tongue) on Raasay. The main site we visited had over 1000 plants and another known site still had about 10 – not too different from when I last checked these two sites in 2008. Nick and Seth each discovered new sites not far away and are now inspired to look for them on Skye. This was a particularly large specimen:

Ophioglossum azoricum (Small Adder’s-tongue)

We also found two different Plume Moths, Thyme Plume and Twin-spot Plume, Satyr Pug and a micromoth that is Bryotropha sp., a Gelechid. Later: B. boreella (Mountain Groundling) Not the greatest moth pictures, but for the record: